Once an information system (IS) has been developed, one of the most difficult tasks is to implement it.
Usually, users tend to believe that the system will solve the entire operative part of the process it automates. Nothing could be further from the truth. The real part that will make the system a success or a failure is precisely the establishment of a proper and formal implementation process. That process must be created and coordinated by the users. The technological component is up to the IT people. The procedures, rules, policies and the operational structure are a responsibility of the clients.
Some of our users imagine that the information system has enough magic to avoid all the steps that must be taken to have an adequate process and a correct information flow.
Here I can mention some good advice for creating and executing a good implementation:
Once the scope and conditions of the implementation have been studied, it will be necessary to establish the strategy that will be specified at this stage.
The implementation team is constituted, determining the human resources necessary for the installation of the system, the implementation and the preparation of the maintenance. They identify, for each of them, their profiles and levels of responsibility.
Preparation of the Production Environment
In this task, all the necessary resources are available to carry out the production of the components and subsystems that make up the information system.
To this end, the availability of the environment and the data necessary to carry out the production start-up is ensured as well as the associated manual or automatic procedures. It is very important to have the documentation of these procedures and the specification of functions and responsibilities of the system’s users.
Training for Implementation
In this activity, the training is prepared and imparted to the team that will participate in the system implementation. It is also indispensable to train the technical support personnel who will carry out the post-implementation activities. It’s fundamentally important to monitor the training of end users, this ensures that the implementation will be carried out correctly.
Publication of regulatory procedures
Once the evaluation of the normative procedures in the construction and testing phase of the system has been carried out, the functional analyst together with the project leader must carry out all the necessary actions to approve and publish those procedures in the shortest time possible. This is an activity that you can not avoid. The written rules of operation and functionality constitute an essential pillar for the correct implementation and use of the information system and the correct functioning of the automated process.
This activity aims to establish the starting point at which the system goes into production. To do this, it is necessary to have the production environment perfectly installed in terms of basic hardware and software, new system components and manual and automatic procedures. All databases must be clean and ready to store the real and definitive information. In this stage, the system configuration in technical terms must happen. The final result at this point is the IS working perfectly for the users.
Starting the operation
In this activity, the system is started up and the user team will own it. This is the point where the developer’s team leave the process. From here on forward the system is in charge of the users. It is important, very important, to clarify that the information system is owned by the users, the data stored in the database is owned by the users, the administration of system’s users is a responsibility of themselves, as well as the processes to achieve the correct use of the software tool.
The development team releases the system and allows that the operation is entirely the responsibility of the end user. It is obvious that there will be adjustments needed for the system in terms of technical bugs or failures or some improvements that can be added to the functionality. This must be solved by the developers, but the operation is disconnected from this area once the IS is started.
In my experience, this last stage is the most difficult. Some development teams still think that the information system is owned by them, and try hard to keep control and management of the software. In other cases, the final users don’t have the commitment and consciousness of the role they have to play in the operation and want to delegate the responsibility of operation and data in the development team.
I strongly believe that one of the basic elements for a successful software tool is the divorce between developers and system operators. Not in terms of communication and technical support, but in terms of operability. DevOps principles demand strong interdepartmental communication in an environment that specifies the task to perform by each collaborator.
The developers will not know the operation process, as well as the operators, and it is practically impossible for them to be in charge of every information system or application developed.
Do these kinds of problems sound familiar to anyone? How did you solve these issues? Share your experience with us!
Sergio Yorick is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.